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The case of design-oriented pedagogy: What students’ digital video stories say about emerging learning ecosystems


This paper presents a case study in which multi-age students (aged 6–12, N = 32) in small groups made autonomous inquiries about the phenomenon of winter fishing within the framework of design-oriented pedagogy. The research analyzed storytelling videos that the students produced as learning objects. These videos revealed a picture of the developed learning process and influence afforded and emerged learning ecosystem on it. The research question was as follow: What do the digital stories reveal about the emerged learning ecosystem and learning processes? The qualitative content analysis of the videos’ structure, students’ commentary, and descriptions of the implemented activities revealed that each small group constructed its own niche in the learning ecosystem. By self-organizing and utilizing the afforded community, technology, and information resources, the students constructed their own interpretations of their chosen research tasks and related inquiries. Based on the findings, we argue that such inquiry-driven learning tasks and afforded learning resources guide students to search for strategic types of knowledge to understand the given phenomena and communicate their complex study processes. The study confirms that students’ agency in design-oriented pedagogy will resemble that expected of 21st-century learners. Moreover, young children (from the age of 6) can participate and become active community members in the co-developed learning process and in the creation of local knowledge in the form of storytelling.

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This study was supported by the EU financed project of Forest as a Learning Environment (under project no. 24403), the Academy of Finland (under project no. 1217068). We thank the community of Kaipola school, both faculty and students, and the experts of the winter fishing for their participation in the study. We also would like to extend special thanks to Henriikka Vartiainen, who co-designed and carried out the present project and collected data material with the authors.

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Correspondence to Liljeström Anu.

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Anu, L., Jorma, E. & Sinikka, P. The case of design-oriented pedagogy: What students’ digital video stories say about emerging learning ecosystems. Educ Inf Technol 19, 583–601 (2014).

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  • Design-oriented pedagogy
  • Learning ecosystem
  • Self-organizing
  • Co-development
  • Science inquiry
  • Video-based storytelling